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Micah Day Center

Project Homeless Connect

By | Employment Opportunities, Giving Opportunities, Micah Day Center, Veterans, Volunteering

Project Homeless Connect is an annual event at the Donald Snyder Community Center in Biloxi MS where the homeless can come for a one free day “one stop” opportunity to receive services, and personal assistance. Some of the things included by service providers were: breakfast and lunch, financial services, haircuts, health screenings, housing information, flu shots, hygiene kits, resources, VA assistance, and vaccinations for pets. Back Bay Mission attends yearly, and this year we passed out 150 pairs of BOMBAS socks, 110 flyers for the Hunger Homeless meal, and 150 quick resource guides for homeless that Back Bay Mission made, but perhaps the most important thing we did was interact with people that were eager for change and full of hope!

 

In Their Shoes

By | Events, Micah Day Center

Have you ever found yourself wondering what it is like to be homeless? Living on the streets, never knowing when your next meal will come, or when you’ll again wear clean clothes? Sleeping on the streets or in the woods? 

Now is your chance to learn what a day in the life of a homeless person is like through Back Bay Mission’s In Their Shoes program. Start your experience with a homeless scenario. Come to understand why homelessness occurs, especially in regions such as the Gulf Coast. Learn what services are offered by Back Bay Mission, and other partnering organizations. Meet program caseworkers and learn what each does to support our clients. In just over two hours, your eyes will be opened to a whole world existing just outside your doorstep.  

OCTOBER 11 | 9-11:30 AM

BACK BAY MISSION

1012 DIVISION ST, BILOXI, MS

Come together and learn about our homeless community by taking a walk…

In Their Shoes

RSVP to Laura Payne, lpayne@thebackbaymission.org or 228.432.0301

Sandwiches: A Story from Our Homeless Outreach Ministry

By | Micah Day Center

Every month, our program staff share stories about their work and the people they serve. We want to share some of those stories with you! This story is from Sarah Boone, our Home At Last caseworker. We’ve done a little bit of editing for clarity.

Since coming here to Back Bay Mission I have eagerly awaited an invitation to go to a homeless camp to meet with a demographic we had maybe not reached prior to this point. I went into it thinking I could pour out some information and pass out some pamphlets in hopes we could open some form of communication and help to better their situation. I got so much more than I could have ever expected. In fact, it could be said I received more out of the experience than they did.

A homeless gentleman who regularly comes for services here at Back Bay Mission offered to act as my homeless liaison between myself and some camps that he was intimately familiar with in Harrison County. We set a date and time to set out on our homeless camp voyage. The morning we were set to leave, the Biloxi Starbucks whom I have built a relationship with serendipitously contacted me and said they had 20 extra sandwiches, could I use them for my outreach that day? What a blessing to be able to have a hot offering to take into the woods with me on that day. My homeless liaison and I set out with sandwiches, pamphlets, information, and a lot of excitement.

When I say there are moments in our lives that not only shape who we are as people but move us deeply, that is what it was like for my first camp experience. When we reached the camp, there were three men and one woman present. The woman was very standoffish while the men were very welcoming. I gave them the sandwiches… and this was the moment where my perspective shifted, and I knew without a doubt that the human spirit is amazing. These men called all the neighboring camps and offered a sandwich to everyone that wanted one. One said, “we are a community and we need to take care of each other.” And I thought how amazing is it that the people who have nothing give everything away with no reluctance and no expectations outside of genuine concern. We sat and talked about what homelessness means to them, and worked at building a relationship. Thirty minutes in, the woman who was standoffish came over and sat next to me in the chair and told me her story and why they all felt reluctant to strangers and the dangers of living in the woods. And still the spirit in the camp was so inspiring.

In total I met eight spirited homeless people on our voyage into their woods. But I gained more than them. As thankful as they were for the sandwiches and outreach information, I was more grateful. My spirit was filled because of who they are and the human decency and kindness they showed me, a stranger; their neighbor homeless friends that they made sure were fed, it’s a moment I won’t forget. Before we left one of the gentlemen looked at me and said, “I think now is a good time to pray for you and what you have done for us.” We stood all eight in the camp, my homeless liaison, and myself in a circle. We held hands and each prayed. They prayed for me, they gave thanks to Starbucks for their donation. It was a moving moment that I could not have predicted and a memory I will cherish. And while they were so thankful for me I am eternally grateful for them. I have since been back to the woods and try to regularly keep contact so we can continue to build trust. Because of our meeting they came to our Thanksgiving dinner here as well as attending the homeless coalition at the Donald Snyder Center. It serves as a reminder to me that God puts people in our lives and paths that will forever be pivotal to personal growth as well as a reminder that basic human kindness can go a long way.  

Did you like this story? Help us tell more of them! Strengthen neighborhoods, seek justice, and transform lives by giving to Back Bay Mission today!

Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week 2017: The Micah Day Center

By | Micah Day Center

It’s hunger and homelessness awareness week, and today we’re going to talk about homelessness and the Micah Day Center.

Homelessness is a surprisingly large problem in the United States. On any given night, almost 550,000 Americans are homeless. Some are sleeping on the streets, in the woods, or even in parking garages. Others are in shelters. Still others are couch surfing. If we were using the definitions provided by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, we’d say that some of these people are ‘primarily homeless’ (they live on the streets) and others are ‘secondarily homeless’ (they don’t have a usual place of residence). Homelessness has many different faces. And, of course, it’s not the same 550,000 people every night of the year; many, many more people experience homelessness at some point during the year.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2016 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, that includes more than 2,500 people in Mississippi (we weren’t able to find county-by-county data).

Back Bay Mission serves homeless people in our area through a variety of ministries. People experiencing homelessness use our food pantry, garden in God’s Green Acre, take art classes, and participate in other programs. We are here for our homeless guests in many ways.

Out best-known ministry for people experiencing homelessness is the Micah Day Center. The Micah Center provides a one-stop shop where guests (and we make sure to think of people as guests, not clients) can access several services. People can take showers, have laundry done, use phones and computers, receive mail, and meet with the case workers. We also invite other agencies in to work with guests, including people who work on housing and job placement. The vital ministry works with guests where they’re at, making sure that they have what they need to survive homelessness and ready to serve people who are ready to move forward.

Giving some statistics for the food pantry yesterday was easy. After all, everyone who comes to the food pantry receives the same basic service (food) and can only come every so often (once every thirty days). The Micah Day Center, though, offers many services and people can come every day that it’s open. And homelessness is a ‘wicked’ problem, one visit isn’t going to solve it.

Here’s what we found when we looked through the data. Out of the hundreds of people who visited the Micah Day Center in 2015 and 2016, about half used no more than five services. That might be five different services on one day, the same service five times on five different days, or anything in between. Over 80% used no more than 19 services.

It’s hard to tell quite what that means. Maybe people are using the Micah Center for a while and then moving on to other providers. Maybe people are transiently homeless and find housing after a short time. We don’t know. But we do know that relatively few people are using the program over the long term. And, during the time that they’re coming to the Micah Center, we’re helping them meet basic needs and connect with the services they need. The Micah Day Center, like the food pantry, is a vital helping hand for people experiencing homelessness.

20 and Homeless: A Story from the Micah Day Center

By | Micah Day Center

Homelessness is hard. Unless you have been homeless, it’s harder than you can possibly imagine. Obviously, people who are experiencing homelessness don’t have a safe, decent, and reliable place to stay. They are also often ignored or abused. Far too often, our society treats people who are homeless as problems, not people.

And homelessness is especially hard for youth.

According to a report from the Administration for Children and Families Street Outreach Program, more than half of older youth who are experiencing homelessness are doing that because their parent or guardian asked them to leave home. The average homeless young person first became homeless at 15, and had been homeless for almost two years. While homeless, almost two-thirds of homeless youth had experienced at least one of: sexual assault, rape, assault, the threat of assault, or robbery. Most had symptoms consistent with depression and trauma, and used alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs.

And one of the most important things we can do for young people who are homeless is help them find housing as quickly as possible. One way we do that is by working with our partners at the Open Doors Homeless Coalition. Right now, we’re working with our friends at Open Doors on the 100-Day Challenge on Youth Homelessness, which is focused on housing people between 16 and 24 years old in Mississippi’s six southern counties.

We got our first chance to meet this challenge when ‘Paul’ came to the Micah Day Center.

Paul is 20 years old and has been homeless for about two years. Born with fetal alcohol syndrome and other developmental challenges, and abused until the age of six, he was removed from his biological parents and put in foster care. His foster family adopted him, and then pushed out of his home as soon as he reached 18.

That’s another fact: more than half of homeless youth have been in the foster care system, and homeless youth who have been in the system are more likely to have experienced abuse both before and during their homelessness.

Paul had recently been released from prison and had no family or friends who could help him. He had simply been put on a bus to Biloxi and pointed towards Back Bay Mission. Now he has to make financial restitution for his crimes and see a supervisor regularly. But unlike many recently released people, he had the forms of ID and personal documents that he would need to present to potential employers. In fact, while he came to the Micah Center for a shower, clothing, and other help, he was in a hurry to get to a job interview!

So Mission staff and volunteers helped Paul with a change of clothing and a suit for his interview.

The next day, Paul came back to the Micah Center. He was eager to talk about housing, and Anne, our Micah Day Center Case Manager started talking to him about the 100 Day Challenge.

Anne’s heart was in her throat as she talked to Paul. She wanted to help Paul before, as she put it, “the streets could get a grip on him.” She knew that the program wasn’t supposed to start taking calls until after Thanksgiving. She knew that local teams hadn’t even begun to shape the work our community would be doing. She knew that it could take weeks or months to find housing… there is far too much need, and there are far too few options for people.

But she called Open Doors anyway. And Open Doors asked her to have Paul call. And he did. And he left a message.

Later that day, Anne walked into the day room in the Micah Center and saw Paul on the phone. Deborah, the Micah Day Center coordinator, let her know that he was talking to someone at Open Doors Housing Coalition. He was being fast tracked for housing! And, in the meantime, Open Doors was putting him up in a hotel and the Mission was giving him a bus pass for interviews.

We gave him some food from our client-choice food pantry. Anne also took him to Wendy’s for a burger and dropped him off at his hotel.

Since then, Paul has gotten a job at a fast food restaurant. That not a living wage, so he’s looking for more work. Paul has also been offered an apartment (by the person who owns the hotel where he’s been staying, no less). The landlord offered him the apartment because he knows Back Bay Mission’s reputation. Paul will be in a rental assistance program for the time being, and will take over his expenses when he’s ready. In the meantime, Open Doors will provide case management and help Paul develop the skills he needs to develop self-sustainability.

This work is possible because of the partnership between Back Bay Mission and the Open Doors Homeless Coalition. Just as importantly, it’s possible because of people like you. When you support Back Bay Mission, you make sure the Micah Day Center is open so someone like Paul can get a shower and a suit for an interview, so that he can tell someone his story, and so that he can be connected to the services he needs to get off the streets and begin the journey to self-sustainability.

26 Fewer Staples: A Story from Our Homeless Outreach Ministry

By | Micah Day Center

Every month, our program staff share stories about their work and the people they serve. We want to share some of those stories with you! This story is from Sarah Boone, our Home At Last caseworker. We’ve done a little bit of editing for clarity.

Working in the Home at Last program and doing homeless outreach gives me a unique opportunity to talk to so many people and to try to be a positive, uplifting person to everyone I meet. I only recently started here and Back Bay Mission, and I’ve been so blessed by the people I get to meet and talk to.

Almost immediately after starting at the Mission, I met a woman who struggles with mental illness. We’ll call her ‘Rachel’.

The first time I met Rachel, she had checked herself out of the hospital, against doctors’ orders, after having major surgery. She walked out of the hospital with 26 staples in her abdomen. Because of her illness, she wasn’t sure what procedure she had had, but she kept repeating that they had stolen her organs when she fell asleep.

Rachel comes to the Micah Day Center regularly, and the staff worked together to talk to her and to try to make sure her health was sustainable. We even called paramedics out, who she denied, and no one could reach here. I kept going out every day to try to earn her trust little by little.

In Mid-September, almost 13 days after her surgery, I sat with Rachel in the Micah Center and asked if her wound was infected or not (which is a major concern with her being homeless). Her wound was turning red and inflamed. I talked to her about the dangers of infection. She insisted that she couldn’t go back to the hospital to have the staples removed because she was terrified that they would put her back to sleep and she would wake up with no organs.

I promised that if I took her there would be no needles and no surgery, and that I would be her advocate and make sure nothing bad happened to her. I was so pleased that she said ‘yes’ that I promised that if she sat through the procedure and let them remove her staples I would even buy her a hot lunch!

I kept my promise and we went to the hospital. At one point, a doctor wanted to draw some blood and she ran out of the hospital. I calmly walked out and talked her back into the ER. After a lot of work, she has 26 fewer staples and I cannot be prouder of how brave she was. I dropped her back off at the Mission with the biggest slushy we could find and a whole box of doughnuts (her lunch request, of course).

Since then, Rachel has asked me to help her with food stamps. I cherish the trust we have. My heart is full everyday, knowing that a small act of kindness or a little word of encouragement can had a positive impact on someone’s lives. I’m thankful for the staff here at Back Bay Mission who teamed together for the sake of one person… because every person deserves kindness, dignity, and respect.

Helping Micah Day Center Guests Find Steady Employment

By | Micah Day Center, Sustainability Ministries

The Crawfish Festival in April, at the Coast Coliseum marked the beginning of Spring and the festival season. Many of our guests who have found regular work have found Labor Finders (located over the bridge in D’Iberville, Mississippi) to be a great place to jump-start their pathways back into the workforce. Labor Finders has placed many of our guests in food service, construction, putting up and taking down performance venues and carnivals, catering on the area’s four military bases, and even the seemingly never-ending road construction taking place here on the Back Bay and East Biloxi neighborhoods.

During the months of April, May, and June, thirteen guests applied for openings in jobs ranging from general labor spot jobs to a variety of food service positions. Of those thirteen applicants, nine have secured jobs, but just a few of these could be called steady jobs.

Job readiness activities are ongoing, in preparation for the EmployAbility Job Fair, June 28, 2017, at the Lyman, Mississippi, Community Center, sponsored jointly by several state agencies concerned with employment opportunities for Mississippians with disabilities. Here in the Day Center, our guests have ongoing help with applications, resumes, cover letters, and other preparations for employment.

Jona Burton, Coordinator of the Career Center at the University of Southern Mississippi at Gulf Park, has volunteered to visit the day center once a month, for two hours, to lead workshops for job seeking and job readiness. The first workshop will take place on Friday, June 30, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. and will cover the basics of writing resumes and cover letters, how dress for interviews, how to speak with a prospective employer, and how to master a 60-second “elevator pitch.”

With partners in our area, we offer several services to support those who want to return to the workforce:

  • Goodwill vouchers for work clothing and shoes
  • Back Bay Missionlimited bus passes for proven job reporting
  • Hope Credit Unionfees waived for first-time homeless clients who become employed, auto-deposit of earnings, limited withdrawals
  • Computer stations donated by generous volunteers, placed in the day center for job searching, job applications
  • Daily assistance available for resumes, references, and cover letters

Our guests face many obstacles: transportation, stable housing, suitable work clothes, regular laundry and personal care and hygiene, just to name a few. Returning to work is not simple – it takes a concerted focused effort to start rebuilding a kind of muscle needed to strengthen a life that has fallen on hard times. We do a good job of supplying showers four mornings and laundry three mornings a week. But this barely moves the mountains facing our guests every day. Building up to a job with a living wage can take a very long time.

An efficient monthly bus pass costs over $50.00, and can take several days of labor to purchase along with food, rough shelter, and other basic needs. Securing housing and all the necessary deposits can take a very long time in this area where there are no overnight and transitional shelters for our average guest.

Mission Report: Micah Day Center and Homeless Outreach, Third Quarter of 2016

By | Micah Day Center

The Micah Day Center provides a variety of services to our low-income and homeless guests. Guests are able to take showers and have laundry done. They can use our computers, our phone number, and have mail delivered. They can receive clothes and get haircut. And, of course, the Micah Center is always a place of warm welcome and hospitality.

Everyone who comes to us is, first and foremost, the precious child of a loving God.

In addition to meeting the immediate needs of our guests, we provide resources so that they can improve their lives. Guests have access to help with their resumes, employment agencies, housing agencies, help with applications for entitlements, and so on. More than providing emergency assistance, the Micah Center helps improve the long term sustainability of its guests.

Finally, not everyone in need of our help can make it to the Micah Center. We also provide outreach services to people around Biloxi and Gulfport. This includes bus passes, hygiene kits, referrals to other organizations, glasses, propane for camp stoves, vouchers for laundry.

Figures in this report reflect services provided from January 1, 2016 – September 30, 2016.

You can also download a print-friendly version of the Micah Day Center report or the homeless outreach report.

Please note that this is an unaudited report. These numbers may not perfectly reflect services provided.

Services Provided (Micah Day Center)

Showers Taken 

1st Quarter: 633

2nd Quarter: 700

3rd Quarter: 875

Loads of Laundry Done

1st Quarter: 400

2nd Quarter: 419

3rd Quarter: 441

Pieces of Mail Distributed

1st Quarter: 374

2nd Quarter: 428

3rd Quarter: 324

Hygiene Kits Given Out

1st Quarter: 225

2nd Quarter: 211

3rd Quarter: 246

Food Stamp Applications

1st Quarter: 49

2nd Quarter: 73

3rd Quarter: 140

Telephone Calls Made

1st Quarter: 116

2nd Quarter: 153

3rd Quarter: 164

Computer Services

1st Quarter: 48

2nd Quarter: 55

3rd Quarter: 102

Haircuts Given

1st Quarter: 66

2nd Quarter: 58

3rd Quarter: 60

Socks Distributed

1st Quarter: 381

2nd Quarter: 409

3rd Quarter: 311

Services Provided (Homeless Outreach)

Due to reporting difficulties during a prolonged staff absence, the second and third quarters have had to be combined.

Referrals

1st Quarter: 27

2nd and 3rd Quarters: 34

Bus Passes

1st Quarter: 19

2nd and 3rd Quarters: 154

Hygiene Kits

1st Quarter: 28

2nd and 3rd Quarters: 120

Backpacks

1st Quarter: 11

2nd and 3rd Quarters: 7

Pairs of Glasses

1st Quarter: 13

2nd and 3rd Quarters: 2

Sleeping Bags

1st Quarter: 1

2nd and 3rd Quarters: 6

How You can Help 

When you make a gift to Back Bay Mission, you give people a place of extravagant welcome. You meet the immediate needs of low-income and homeless people, needs like showers and clean clothes. You also help people make better lives for themselves by connecting them to employment and housing services. You do so much to change the lives of the people your gift touches.

Your gift to the Micah Day Center, or any of our other ministries, makes a difference.

You can make your gift easily and securely right on this website.

You can also mail your gift to Back Bay Mission, PO Box 288, Biloxi, Mississippi 39533.

Mission Report: Micah Day Center and Homeless Outreach, Second Quarter of 2016

By | Micah Day Center

The Micah Day Center provides a variety of services to our low-income and homeless guests. Guests are able to take showers and have laundry done. They can use our computers, our phone number, and have mail delivered. They can receive clothes and get haircut. And, of course, the Micah Center is always a place of warm welcome and hospitality.

Everyone who comes to us is, first and foremost, the precious child of a loving God.

In addition to meeting the immediate needs of our guests, we provide resources so that they can improve their lives. Guests have access to help with their resumes, employment agencies, housing agencies, help with applications for entitlements, and so on. More than providing emergency assistance, the Micah Center helps improve the long term sustainability of its guests.

Finally, not everyone in need of our help can make it to the Micah Center. We also provide outreach services to people around Biloxi and Gulfport. This includes bus passes, hygiene kits, referrals to other organizations, glasses, propane for camp stoves, vouchers for laundry.

Figures in this report reflect services provided from January 1, 2016 – June 30, 2016.

You can also download a print-friendly version of the Micah Day Center report.

Please note that this is an unaudited report. These numbers may not perfectly reflect services provided.

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